The Best Collagen Supplements for Skin, Joint Health & More

Heather Dessinger

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best collagen supplements

So, awhile back I posted my Copycat Orange Julius recipe and mentioned in passing that I added my new favorite collagen to the mix. You were like “Oh yum, NOW TELL ME WHY YOU SWITCHED COLLAGEN BRANDS.”

Okay, I can take a hint, especially when it comes via multiple comments, messages to my inbox, copious amounts of exclamation points, and skywriting. And I totally get the questions, because who doesn’t love a protein powder that studies suggest may improve skin elasticity, support gut health and improve sleep, among many other things?

So today I’m going to tell you which brands I prefer and why, plus how to use them.

First, though, I want to remind you that none of these statements have been evaluated by the FDA, this article is not medical advice, and it is not meant to diagnose or treat any condition. As always, please talk with your healthcare provider about any supplements you are considering. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s dive in.

What is collagen?

Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies – it’s often referred to as the scaffolding for our skin, bones, cartilage, ligaments, blood vessels and more. A lot of research has been done on the benefits of collagen for skin, sleep, mood, joint health, muscle mass, gut health, wound healing, bone density and cardiovascular health, which you can read more about here.

Unfortunately we make less collagen as we get older, which is why many people opt to consume it in supplement form.

best collagen supplements

What are the different types of collagen?

There are at least sixteen types of collagen in our bodies, but most of it (80-90%) is either Type I, Type II, or Type III.

  • Type I and III– These two types are helpful for supporting skin elasticity and hydration, and they also provide structure to bones, tendons, connective tissue, fibrous cartilage, teeth, muscles, organs and arteries.
  • Type II – This type is more commonly used for joint support. It’s not as common but you can find it here.

Most of the collagen supplements available contain one or more of Type I, II, and III. Grass-fed bovine (beef) collagen typically contains I and III, while marine collagen (derived from fish) typically contains I and II.

What’s the difference between collagen and gelatin?

In addition to the different types of collagen that are determined by the source (beef, fish, etc.), there are also different ways that collagen can be prepared:

Gelatin – This is the form you want to use for making homemade strawberry jello or gummy snacks. It doesn’t dissolve well in cold liquids, but when added to hot liquids it causes a gelling reaction that gives those foods their structure. It’s also the form that is found in bone broth, which is why it sometimes takes on jello-like texture when cold.

Collagen hydrolysate – Also called collagen peptides, this form has been hydrolyzed (aka broken down) so that it’s easier to absorb. It doesn’t gel and dissolves easily, making it perfect for adding to drinks, smoothies, etc.

What are the best collagen supplements?

Quality most definitely matters when buying collagen supplements. Many have been independently tested and found to contain harmful contaminants, which is why if you peeked in my pantry right now you’d find Perfect Supplements.

I like them because they’re affordable and they have a strong commitment to purity and transparency. They don’t just ask you to trust them when they say their gelatin and collagen are free of  pesticides, hormones, chemicals, and contaminants including glyphosate residue – they post the lab results on their product listings.

Tip for Getting The Most Out of Collagen Supplements

Both collagen hydrolysate and gelatin supplements are mostly broken down by digestion, so we’re not absorbing and using them directly. The reason they’re so helpful is that they contain most of the building blocks we need to make our own.

However, there are a few additional nutrients that are required to activate the enzymes needed to put everything together. They are:

  • Vitamin C – Good sources are sauerkraut, citrus fruits, strawberries, kiwi, cauliflower, broccoli, tomatoes, dark greens, and peppers. A note that vitamin C is destroyed when exposed to heat, so eat these foods raw to gain the maximum benefit.
  • Copper – Found in cashews, oysters, crab and sunflower seeds. Beef liver is also very rich in copper, and Perfect Supplements sells a capsule form that I take daily.
  • Zinc – Good sources are oysters, poultry, meat, cashews, almonds and dairy products.

Do you have a question about collagen supplements? 

Please leave it in the comments below!

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Heather is a holistic health educator, herbalist, DIYer, Lyme and mold warrior. Since founding in 2009, Heather has been taking complicated health research and making it easy to understand. She shares tested natural recipes and herbal remedies with millions of naturally minded mamas around the world. 

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58 thoughts on “The Best Collagen Supplements for Skin, Joint Health & More”

  1. Is there a difference between the two products, nutritionally? Like, if I’m still healing my digestive system, is one better than the other? One better for regular use for children? I’ve been looking for a good way to supplement my protein while pregnant, and this looks like the best option!

  2. Hi Mommypotamus:)

    Is the only difference between the collagen protein and the collagen peptides, to do with they way it dissolves in either hot or cold water?

    Thank you!
    Jen Huff

    • Mostly, but there is one more difference. The collagen peptides do not gel at room temperature, while the collagen proteins do. You want collagen proteins to make jello, etc.

    • Hi, thanks for sharing this information. So you take all 3 of those collagens everyday? Once?
      Please let me know.
      Thanks again,

  3. I’m also having problems when I apply the code. It is not taking 20% off. Would love to get it figured out, I’ve been wanting to try Vital Proteins for

  4. I just tried the code and it worked great! Thanks for the discount code! I actually realized that I ordered at the gelling kind and canceled the order I made at Amazon and re-ordered through the Vital Proteins site directly.

  5. I’m excited about this, but still a bit confused about the 2 kinds. I used to get the red canister (Great Lakes?) kind but do not know which it was. I use it primarily for the babies’ formula (WAP) and have been getting the Bernard Jensen brand for that. I do, occasionally, make homemade marshmallows. Please advise, anyone? TIA

  6. These products are wonderful. My sister bought the collagen peptides to help heal her gut. Since using it, she has had less stomach issues.

    Thanks for the GREAT give away:0)

  7. Heather,
    Would you have any advise if the coupon code does not work. I’ve tried it several times and go through the checkout till right before I place the order to see if it will deduct the 20% once I have input all the info. But it does not. Any help would be much appreciated!

  8. Thanks for the blog post, the giveaway and the coupon. Just ordered my first jar and may even get the other product within the 7 day period!! Thank you so much.

    • I’ve used the Great Lakes gelatin in tummies and they didn’t taste bad. In fact I’ve drank it just mixed in water before and though it didn’t taste “yummy”, it wasn’t bad either. I think you should still try your gummies, maybe your taste buds won’t even notice. 🙂

  9. Gosh dang, I just barely saved enough to buy a 2-pack of Great Lakes brand on amazon, haven’t even cracked them yet.. so are gummies and marshmallows going to taste spooky? How else could I use it? I have the red stuff.

    • I’ve used the Great Lakes gelatin in tummies and they didn’t taste bad. In fact I’ve drank it just mixed in water before and though it didn’t taste “yummy”, it wasn’t bad either. I think you should still try your gummies, maybe your taste buds won’t even notice. 🙂

    • Use it! As I said in the post, I will continue to recommend Great Lakes, but I prefer this brand because the flavor is more mild. But seriously, I used them for years and am so glad to have had access to such a nourishing food ingredient for my family.

    • I’ve not made the gummies, but I do use the red kind in my smoothies and have never noticed a taste. Great Lakes is a quality product. And now we know there is another option to try.

  10. I’m wondering how much gelatin you’d give a baby to prep his defensive system for eating food. Is that something that would be helpful? I haven’t been able to find good beef bones to make broth, so I was thinking I might be able to give my baby gelatin in some breast milk.

  11. Just ordered one of each. Coupon code worked great. Got over $15 off. Been wondering about this as a processed food. Any thoughts?

  12. The coupon code worked great! Thanks Heather, I bought through the affiliate link too so…you’re welcome. 😉 j/k

    This “promo” finally pushed me over the edge to get this brand – I love to use gelatin in desserts and didn’t love the “beefy-ness” of the brand I’ve been using up to this point. Can’t wait till it get’s here so I can make my butterscotch “pots de creme” (basically just gelatinized pudding the way I make it).

    • Hi Beth, here’s some info from their FAQ that you may find helpful:

      “Vital Proteins proactively performs testing on each lot of our products, including heavy metals (Cadmium, Chromium, Arsenic, Lead, Mercury, Polychlorinated Biphenyls, Copper, and Zinc) as well as microbiological parameters. At the time of manufacturing, heavy metal testing is done and the product is approved for human consumption and packaging once it passes all tests and no heavy metals are detected in our product. Our testing standards follow the AOAC International’s official methods of analysis through ICP-MS atomic spectroscopy instrumentation. Vital Proteins will not approve lots that have a detectable level of heavy metals.”

  13. I was wondering what you thought about using the Vital Protein and Peptides if breastfeeding. 3 1/2 month baby. I’ve tried researching it but find different opinions. Thanks! 🙂

  14. I just purchased this product :). Have you heard of anyone having side effects. A Google search I did showed some disease may be transmitted from the cattle, like bovine spongiform encephalitis (bse) (spelling is probably incorrect). TIA!

  15. Great question Brooke been wondering that myself……can this disease be transmitted?…..I believe the bse is also known as mad cow disease.

  16. I just purchased my first ever container of gelatin. I am the extremely proud grandmother of 3 grandboys and 2 unknowns in the safety of development. After reading your info on gelatin, I decided we needed to eat gummy worms again. This time the real food deal. I make my own bone gelatin and broth but am wondering about the hide. I searched but didn’t find anything so am wondering if you have made your own hide gelatin? Is so, would you share the instructions please? Also, do you have any recipes using homemade bone gelatin? I realize it won’t be gelled the same as with the powder. Thank you for posting your journey and discoveries. Delis hous recipes too. Don’tcha love auto correct (not). Kim

  17. Hi, is this okm to take during pregnancy? It’s a major bummer because Dr’s typically don’t know these things so it’s frutrating to be told ask your Dr. Thank you so much for the info you post.
    Warm Regards,

  18. 5 stars
    Please tell me what you suggest for a collagen supplement in pill form, that covers types I, II, & III together…no matter how I try, I cannot swallow the other form. Thank you so much.

  19. I love the taste of collagen and have tried many brands including Vital Proteins, but it seems I get terrible cramps in my calves while in bed if I start taking it consistently. Why do you think this is happening?